A quick thought, during a busy exam period: if the math in my curriculum is worth learning, then shouldn’t I be evaluating the students in a way that reflects that? Instead, we’re stuck with *problems*, seemingly the math teacher’s only tool.

I’d love for my standardized examinations to ask students to draw conclusions from table of data or develop a business model as a mathematical function. Instead, the IB Math Studies exams (paper 1) have two points, out of 90, reserved for “mathematical reasoning” — that is, thinking. We can do better.

This problem isn’t exclusive to math. Physics also finds itself in the problem-shaped hole (although the IB Physics exams do a decent job of balancing between explanation and calculation). The humanities, on the other hand, seem obsessed with the academic essay.

Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be much of a push toward authentic assessments, in the IB or otherwise. I think part of the issue is that we’ve all gotten used to the problems/essays, and have grown our courses around them. For now, I’ll try to do what I can to create authentic learning and assessment experiences for my students, while also teaching them to solve “problems”.